Armstrong, Kelley 1968–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Armstrong, Kelley 1968–

(Kelley L. Armstrong)

PERSONAL:

Born December 14, 1968, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Marshall and Oral Armstrong; married Jeffrey Fricke, May 12, 1990; children: Julia, Alexander, Marcus. Education: University of Western Ontario, B.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. Agent—Helen Heller Agency, 892 Aveneue Rd. Toronto, Ontario M5P 2K6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and computer programmer.

WRITINGS:

FICTION

(With others) Dates from Hell, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Exit Strategy, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.

"WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD" SERIES

Bitten (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Stolen, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Dime Store Magic, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Industrial Magic, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Haunted, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Broken, Seal Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

No Humans Involved, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

Bitten has been optioned for a feature film by Warner Brothers.

SIDELIGHTS:

Canadian author Kelley Armstrong debuted in 2001 with the novel Bitten, the first in what has become a lengthy series of supernatural books dealing with werewolves, half-demons, witches, and telepathics who coexist with the everyday world. The prolific Armstrong has added a title a year to her "Women of the Otherworld" series. In 2007 she launched a new series with Exit Strategy, featuring a female cop-turned-hit-woman.

Armstrong's initial novel, Bitten, is a first-person narrative by the only true female werewolf in the world, for only sons can inherit the werewolf gene. The novel's heroine, Elena, however, was bitten by Clayton, a werewolf she loved who left her on the estate of werewolf leader Jeremy in upstate New York to learn more about the ways of the Pack. Elena wants to return to a normal life and flees to Toronto, where she meets and moves in with the very normal, if stodgy, Philip, who loves her and worries when she goes out in the evenings to "think." In fact, Elena escapes into the darkness when she feels she is about to experience the Change, the trauma of which usually kills females. In her review of the novel, Washington Post Book World critic Carolyn See wrote: "Elena is then out and about on the streets of Toronto, prowling back alleys, scaring citizens, engaging in a staring contest with a coyote and its companion, ripping out the throat of one of them, and finally she's in a wild ravine somewhere running, which is mostly what she wanted to do in the first place."

Jeremy calls Elena back to the estate to help fight four rogue werewolves who do not play by the rules, one of whom was a serial killer in his prior life. Clayton has also returned; he is still crazy about Elena, who scolds him for betraying her and leaving her behind. He is then captured by the enemy werewolves. They want to trade him for Elena, who would be used to breed purebred werewolves, but she has other plans. Library Journal contributor Jen Baker wrote that "while the plot is predictable as gang warfare, readers will cheer for Elena as she beats up the big boys and has the courage to choose her own path." Harriet Klausner, who reviewed the novel for the Mysterious Reader Web site, called Bitten "a well-written horror novel with a fast-paced story line" and Elena "the consummate heroine." "A feisty, tough character, easy to like, and with a good lesson to share," was Carol DeAngelo's description of Elena in a School Library Journal review. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "smooth as cream all the way, sure to gain fans."

Armstrong continues her series with Stolen, which furthers Elena's story. Here Elena must battle a crazed millionaire who has created a zoo of mythological creatures, and hopes to add a werewolf to his collection. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "sassy, pumped-up Elena makes a perfect hardboiled horror heroine." Elena is again featured in a later series installment, Broken. Now pregnant, she becomes involved in a time-portal adventure into the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

In the next series installments, Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, Armstrong focuses on "fledgling witch Paige Winterbourne and her half-demon attorney boyfriend, Lucas Cortez, who is the reluctant heir to the Cortez Cabal, one of the most powerful demon business organizations," as Writers Write contributor Claire E. White explained. Lara Apps, reviewing Dime Store Magic in Strange Horizons, noted: "A major part of this novel's charm is the world that Armstrong has created. There are witches, sorcerers, half-demons, werewolves, shamans, and necromancers, all living and operating secretly in the modern world." Apps went on to term the novel "smart, fast-paced, and rollicking good fun." Industrial Magic finds Paige and Lucas on the trail of a serial killer whose victims are children. Haunted, the fifth book in the series, features Eve Levine, a character from Industrial Magic who is half-demon, half-witch, and a ghost. Here she must find an escaped demi-demon who inspires humans to kill. Curled Up with a Good Book reviewer Rashmi Srinivas praised "the vividly and creatively imagined afterworld with its own rules, varied denizens and equally varying hells" in this work.

No Humans Involved, the seventh title in Amrstrong's supernatural series, features the medium Jaime Vegas, who works in television in Los Angeles on a show which uses mediums to reach the victims of murder. While preparing for the show, Jaime begins to see things other do not. Reviewing the novel in the Library Journal, Crystal Renfro thought the book's "nonstop action will keep readers enthralled to the last page."

Armstrong opens a new series with Exit Strategy, featuring former Canadian police officer Nadia Stafford. Nadia lost her job as a result of a fatal shooting; now she hires herself out as a professional killer, though one with a conscience. Her target is a hitman who has become a serial killer. She teams up with her former teacher, Jack, on this job, and the attraction between the two forms a subplot to the adventure. Writing in Curled Up With a Good Book, Wendy Runyon had high praise for this new novel, terming it a "fast-paced and high in action with a colorful cast of characters that will leave you wondering who you can trust." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly contributor termed the work "a top-notch entertainment sure to seduce fans of tough heroines."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Bitten, p. 1042; April 15, 2003, review of Stolen, p. 577.

Library Journal, September 15, 2001, Jen Baker, review of Bitten, p. 108; March 15, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of No Humans Involved, p. 65.

Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Stolen, p. 204; November 1, 2004, review of Industrial Magic, p. 49; May 21, 2007, review of Exit Strategy, p. 41.

School Library Journal, March, 2002, Carol DeAngelo, review of Bitten, p. 260.

Washington Post Book World, October 26, 2001, Carolyn See, "Dances with Werewolves," p. C4.

ONLINE

Best Reviews,http://www.bestreviews.com/ (September 5, 2001), Harriet Klausner, review of Bitten.

Books 'n Bytes,http://www.booksnbytes.com/ (August 17, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Stolen.

Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (August 17, 2007), Rashmi Srinivas, reviews of Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, and Haunted; Wendy Runyon, review of Exit Strategy.

Kelley Armstrong Home Page,http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com (August 17, 2007).

Mysterious Readers, http://www.mysteriousreaders.com (February 7, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Bitten.

Science Fiction and Fantasy World,http://www.sffworld.com/ (August 17, 2007), Mark Yon, review of No Humans Involved.

SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (August 17, 2007), Alisa McCune, "A Conversation with Kelley Armstrong."

Strange Horizons,http://www.strangehorizons.com/ (October 11, 2004), Lara Apps, review of Dime Store Magic.

Writers Write,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (August 17, 2007), Claire E. White, "A Conversation with Kelley Armstrong."